Getting ready to leave Harmony Street

“Look how beautiful this is! A clear road ahead, we’re walking, the sun in shining, the air is fresh… No one pushing, nothing like the crowded morning underground ride…” I hesitantly say as we’re walking to the city center this morning.

Four more weeks before I move house. It’s hard. I live in my favorite area in Bucharest, where I’ve wanted to live ever since I first discovered these quiet narrow streets, lined with old houses, some run down, others still retaining some of their former glory in sumptuous ornaments and elegant architecture. Most of them date back to the period between the two world wars or even earlier, before the first world war. They belong to times when rich people were stiff, elegant, conservative and stylish, but also generally well educated.

I moved here at a time in my life when I was going through great changes. I had moved out of my own apartment, where I’d lived for nine years and in which I not only invested finances, but also hopes and dreams and ideas and feelings and a great part of my heart. “The bed I’m going to get pregnant into” was left behind along with painted radiator masks, chairs and so on. I have to admit I went through a gradual process of letting go that started long before I actually left the place. I cried for every object. I admit. I cried for the wooden floor in the living room as if it were a dear old friend I was leaving.

But when I left, there were no more tears for objects. I never looked back. Never felt sorry for anything anymore. Cut the cords and moved on. From time to time I would go to the fridge to pick up something I’d left in my other fridge, but that didn’t take long, either, and made me giggle eventually.

Before I found the house in Harmony street I made a list with everything I wanted from the new place I was moving into. This place met every strict requirement. I knew immediately it was going to be my new home and that I was going to love it. And that it would only be temporary. Though my initial ‘plan’ has absolutely nothing to do with what’s happening in my life now, it still prevented me from forming too close attachments to the new place.

Nevertheless, now, that I’m preparing to leave again, I’m trying to enjoy every detail, every second spent here, every walk to work and back home again, every bike ride along these beautiful streets. I’m making mental lists of things that will remind me of this place: how happy I was here, how free, so much travelling I’ve done, the open terrace, the run down attic, the cracks in the walls, the dancing during earthquakes, the trembling floor when the washing machine is on, the comfortable bed, the decorations, the marble steps, the sound of the wind blowing last autumn, the piles of virgin snow covering the tiny front yard one winter morning as I struggled to pushed the door open to go to work, the crazy guy downstairs paying me a surprise visit around lunchtime on a Sunday, the parties, the skype conversations, the nighttime jogging last summer and poetry while jogging, hooker spotting and so many other big and small details that will keep this place and this period in my heart for a long while.

I am moving on now. It’s a leap of faith, just like every important move in life. No guarantees. There were no guarantees when I moved here, either. And yet I felt that the happiest period in my life so far was starting. I was right. Sometimes I feel confident, other times I am so afraid. I keep telling myself it’s an adventure. It will take me somewhere. I don’t know where yet. But I know I’m not stuck, I am moving. This time last year I was looking forward to my second trip to Istanbul and talking to my Syrian boyfriend every night on Skype. Now it’s like I have died in the meantime and was born into a new life already. I still have some memories from the previous one, but it’s a totally different story now. I have no regrets. I have moved past the threshold. More about my new life as it unfolds.

Another earthquake, another leap of faith

The blond girl waving her pony tail is smiling behind the counter of the small coffee shop at the underground exit, making her cheekbones shine under the heavy layer of bronze blush and her white teeth sparkle under the yellow, artificial light. Her customer is a regular and so their encounter is warm and pleasant.

“It must be so nice to be smiled at like that as you’re getting your coffee in the morning”, I tell him and he smiles in approval, holding my hand tightly and leading me up the stairs and into the morning light.

There was another earthquake last night. A strong one. This time it caught me in a completely different situation than last time. Travel plans already made, cards laid face up on the table, bare heart and warm arms. Another jump into the unknown. Another leap of faith. Come what may. Thy will be done.

Leaving the blond girl behind, we’re walking right through the old city, with its street sweepers all busy and cold, cigarette buds bearing marks of lipstick and kisses and alcohol and promises, lies and stories over what all of us are going through – the pursuit of happiness.

My right eye is upset and keeps shedding tears, all swollen and red, itchy and bad. The eye that insisted on becoming blue last month. The eye I hit against the asphalt. The eye that has got tired of seeing too much. The eye that wants to sleep. I keep encouraging it to show me the truth no matter what.

And still, a part of me, like those street sweepers cleaning the narrow streets in the old city the morning after each party, is desperately trying to clear the area of all the information that may cause pain. I am not afraid of the truth. I know it too well. I am afraid of the impossibility to keep up an illusion long enough to give me the impression I can still be loved.

PS Sorry for the drama. Getting back to happiness mode in 3… 2… 1…

2.11 am

I’m in my bed in Bucharest, checking flights to Konya. Just as the search produces results, the room starts shaking. Ok, I say to myself, it’s an earthquake, it’s an earthquake, just breathe. And I don’t move, I just witness the tension of the earth releasing and my own building up. The earth stopped shaking 9 minutes ago and I haven’t.

For a moment there, I thought the walls might give in (I live in this very old house), so my mind started reciting a prayer. Numerous layers of thought and feeling simultaneously active. There’s the prayer level, the fear level, the anger level, the regret level, the gratefulness level, the stupid level, the practical, what-to-do level, the ‘other people’ level, the love-of-my-life level, the what-the-fuck-am-I-still-doing-here level, the passive level and others I have no record of.

I watched “The lake house” tonight, it finished about 40 minutes before the earthquake. I was crying for half of it. And as the earthquake’s unfolding (How long did it last, anyway? How many minutes? How many years?), my loneliness surfaces again just like this wave from deep within the earth is surfacing now. I could die here. Or anywhere, for that matter. Have I died already? Am I still waiting to meet you (again)? Are you still out there?

Later update:

Since I was looking into travelling to Konya, I thought consulting Rumi on the current issue might be interesting, so here’s what he says:

“Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I run after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.
I should be suspicious
of what I want.”

(Rumi, Selected poems, Penguin Classics, London, 2004, opened radomly at page 110)